56% people are confused about sunscreens SPF rating, UVA & UVB protection

A survey conducted on 2,000 adults in the United Kingdom has revealed that one out of every five individuals don’t know that SPF rating only indicates the level of protection from UVB rays and not from all kinds of sun damage. The level of protection against sun’s UVA rays is embodied by a star rating.

While skin cancer can be caused by both ultraviolet A and ultraviolet B rays, UVA rays are responsible for causing wrinkles and skin aging; UVB rays, on the other hand, are the sole cause of sunburn. So, a sunscreen that just has an SPF rating printed on the bottle protects our skin only against sunburn caused by the UVB rays.

Experts are saying that users should also be concerned about the UVA rays, which can penetrate our skin more deeply accelerating the aging process. However, during the above-mentioned survey, only one out of three participants said that they check the ultraviolet-A star rating when purchasing sunscreen.

For those who don’t know: the UVA star rating ranges from zero to five; this rating indicates the percentage of ultraviolet-A radiation the sunscreen absorbs in comparison with UVB.

According to Professor Jayne Lawrence, the chief scientist at the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), the results of the survey clearly shows that a large number of users still don’t realize that SPF rating of a sunscreen only indicates the protection offered against sun’s UVB rays and not UVA rays. She added that users shouldn’t be required to analyze complicated dual ratings for understanding the sunscreen’s working procedure and the level of protection it can potentially provide.


Prof. Lawrence feels that sunscreen manufacturers should start providing an easy-to-understand rating as soon as possible. According to her, the rating should be based on the total sun protection provided by the product, very high, high, medium or low protection.

According to numbers put up by the survey, only 8% of UK adults know that the SPF rating on sunscreen labels only indicates the level of protection the product offers against UVB rays. Also, one out of every four individual surveyed said that they have absolutely no idea about what the SPF rating stands for. Among adults with kids, 15% confessed that they have never checked the SPF rating of the sunscreen they use.

About the author

Nitin Agarwal

Nitin has a background in Electrical Engineering and is passionate about the Internet of Things. He covers how connected devices like smart homes, wearables, and industrial IoT are changing our daily lives. Nitin is also a DIY enthusiast and loves to build IoT gadgets.